People are losing their patience and the numbers are improving, which means New York City will soon begin re-opening in stages – if it hasn’t already by the time you read this. During this time, professional drivers willing to brave the pandemic will be an important part of getting the city moving again.
Although business has been down by upwards of 90%, that’s very likely going to change fairly rapidly, and it’s essential that drivers protect themselves and their passengers from COVID-19. That means keeping your hands clean, disinfecting your vehicle between every client and wearing a mask while a passenger is in the car (your passengers should be wearing them, too).
It also means monitoring your own health. If you have any symptoms, stop working immediately and consider reaching out to a medical professional. For drivers who participate in the New York Black Car Fund (BCF), you have a FREE telemedicine benefit provided through Drivers Benefits, which you can activate by visiting https://driversbenefits.org/activate-now/?utm_source=WB&utm_medium=Telemed.
As an additional safety measure, a lot of drivers are installing partitions in their vehicles. According to NYC’s Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC), “During the COVID-19 pandemic… all vehicles without partitions [have] the opportunity to have temporary partitions installed by approved partition installers. Traditionally, partitions have had to meet the technical requirements contained in the TLC’s rules. However, the TLC is temporarily easing restrictions to allow non-bulletproof partitions to be installed by approved installers.”
The TLC has even provided a list of approved partition installers, which can be viewed here.
Unfortunately, according to reports, a high percentage of the installers listed are either out of business or so booked up they aren’t accepting new appointments for weeks at a time. The TLC recommends contacting approved installers in advance, rather than just showing up at their place of business, only to have wasted your time. It’s also not a bad idea to shop around and compare products and prices. They apparently range in price from about $100-400, depending on the quality of the partition and the expertise of the installers.
If this is something you are considering, I would highly recommend booking an appointment ASAP.
“Before the pandemic our primary customers were special needs transportation companies, but now drivers from every segment of the industry are using partitions to stay safe,” explains Richard Davis, owner of Rideshare Safety Partition. “We’ve been selling our universal, self-installable partitions since 2015, but as you can imagine, sales have really increased in the past few months.”
To their credit, the TLC is approving and adding new installers to the list, which is no easy process. And while I’m on the subject of giving credit where it is due, I would like to again commend the TLC and its new Commissioner/Chair Aloysee Heredia Jarmoszuk, as well as New York’s City Council, for establishing the TLC Driver Resource Center. The TLC Resource Center offers a wide range of services, “to all TLC-licensed drivers and medallion owner-drivers,” including legal services, financial counseling, health and mental health referrals, and public benefits application support. Learn more at: https://portal.driverresourcecenter.tlc.nyc.gov.
The Black Car Fund also recently added a new section to its website, which provides information and valuable financial, safety, health and food assistance tips for drivers as they go about helping the city get back on its feet. Find out more at: https://www.nybcf.org/covid19.
Best wishes to everyone. Stay healthy and safe!